Karen Starr

"Living With Art" exhibition at the Akron Art Museum - post 2

Posted January 17, 2015

Gina Thomas McGee, Associate Educator at the Akron Art Museum. Gina was my main contact throughout the process as we prepared for the exhibition.

A few weeks after I happily agreed to design and guest-curate "Living With Art" at the Akron Art Museum, I spent the day onsite there to get acquainted with the team I would be working with and to start considering which pieces from the collection I would like to use in the exhibition.

Let me first introduce the person I have been working the most with throughout this process...Gina Thomas McGee! Her picture is up above. Gina is shown there with her trusty notebook in hand and a smile on her face - the way I saw her every time we had a meeting there. :)

Gina and her colleague Alison Caplan (unfortunately, I don't have a picture of Alison!) work in the Education Department at the museum and help coordinate these special exhibitions. Gina and Alison set me up in an area of the offices of the museum so I could log on to the museum's internal art works collection database. The museum has a wonderful online collection tool on their website of the large majority of the pieces in their collection, but the internal database had everything they own in the collection. 

I must say, that day was one of the most fun ever! To think about and select what painting I wanted to put above the sofa...well, it was simply cliche' and wonderful.
I scrolled for hours and hours through the digital images and accompanying information on artist, dimensions of the piece, museum notes on the pieces, and the like.

At the end of that day, I had a stack of printouts of art works that I loved and wanted to have as possibilities to use for the exhibition. Arnie Tunstall, Collections Manager, would then need to take a look at my selections to see which pieces could be used. I knew going into it that some of my choices might not be available, either because they were already scheduled to be shown in the future, were too fragile for the environment of this type of exhibition, or because they had recently been shown. (More on that, and him, in a future post.)

That day, I also had a chance to meet Chris Ross, Preparator, and Joe Walton, Director of Design for the museum. Joe and Chris are responsible for the design elements and installation of all of the exhibitions.

The pictures below will show you some of the fun behind-the-scenes views that Joe, Arnie, and Chris are involved with at the museum. 

The photo of Chris and Arnie captures them in action...discussing placement of art works in one of the galleries, via the miniature scale model of the galleries.

The one taken from high above a gallery was snapped by Joe Walton. Joe took this shot from up in the platform of a pneumatic lift he was working in during a recent installation of the newest exhibition.

The last two photos are closeups of the miniature galleries model and art replicas...I just loved seeing this up close and thought you would too.
Chris Ross is who makes all the miniature replicas from the pieces in the collection so they can move them around the gallery and play with placement, before the install. (How much fun would that have been to make the mini replicas of Kusama's, Arm Chair, or Warhol's Brillo Box?)

I had a wonderful time that first day searching the database and I am so grateful to the staff at the museum for being so helpful and welcoming to me as I began working on my exhibition.

In my next post I will talk about the furniture and lighting makers I collaborated with on the exhibition. Two of the area's finest craftsmen helped me transform the gallery using all locally-made furnishings.

Chris Ross, Preparator, and Arnie Tunstall, Collections Manager, discuss an upcoming exhibition.

A view from Joe Walton's world....high on top of a pneumatic lift inside the gallery as they install the next exhibition, "Beauty Reigns."

The miniature replica of the museum's main galleries.

 Museum visitors will recognize these minature replicas of pieces from their collection.